Pasta and crème sauces are wonderful, cozy, comfort foods. They can also be a bit gluttonous. The mozzarella and ricotta cheeses meld and blend with spices to create a poignant and memorable taste. Taste should never be sacrificed. When creating pastas with cream sauce, lightening the calorie load is more possible than you think; just think Greek. Using Greek, plain, nonfat yogurt in place of ricotta, heavy cream and sour cream, can do the trick.
You may want to play with the recipe to get the consistency straight, but the recipe I included works well. I further the nutrition by using pasta high in fiber or protein, or both. With the added protein of the yogurt, you genuinely upped the nutritional value. Using skim mozzarella for recipes that call for this is another strategy. The baked ziti with the yogurt in the place of sour cream and ricotta is magical. I add an extra egg, and a little more garlic than that for which the recipe calls. The alfredo calls for water or milk. Using fat free half and half is a smooth move. This increases the richness without the fat.
The parmesan in all the recipes is a difficult one to substitute, but they exist. I use a reduced fat parmesan and it is delicious. The facet that makes a difference here and allows for our success in substitutions is the sheer number of ingredients that are high in taste. If you feel that one of the recipes lack pizzazz, add more spices, not fat. You will achieve the best possible outcome without a mountain of calories! Enjoy
Greek Yogurt Alfredo
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 cup milk or water (I used fat free half & half)
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 0% fat)
1/2 - 2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
8 ounces pasta noodles, cooked
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in garlic powder. Stir in milk (or water). Remove from heat and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Gradually whisk in Greek yogurt.
Add parmesan cheese to sauce and stir until melted. (If the cheese doesn't melt completely because the sauce is too cool, return to stove on low for a couple of minutes) Add salt and pepper to taste and toss with your favorite cooked pasta noodles.
Baked Ziti with Yogurt
1/2 box Ziti pasta, halfway cooked
1 cup 0% Fage Greek yogurt
1 cup Shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cup Simply Enjoy Fra Diavolo Pasta Sauce
1/4 cup Shredded Parmesan cheese
1 medium egg
Dried oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper to taste
Prepare pasta for half the time noted on the package.
2. While pasta is boiling, combine all other ingredients except for the parmesan; add herbs/spices to taste.
3. Drain pasta and mix with rest of ingredients.
4. Place mixture in a square casserole, and sprinkle parmesan evenly over the top.
5. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for ~30min or until the cheese is entirely melted and the top is golden brown.
Skinny Vodka Penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (35-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
½ cup vodka
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup yogurt
½ cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté, 5 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, vodka, and red pepper flakes, if using. Simmer, uncovered, until reduced by half.
Stir in the yogurt and parmesan cheese. To make it extra smooth, blend it with an immersion blender here (optional). Season with salt and pepper.
Add the penne and toss to coat. Remove from the heat and serve immediately, with additional parmesan.